In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, following the events of 9/11, Changez becomes nearly--but not quite--as lost and confused as Erica. Is the thing that saves him from disappearing as she does the...
In The Reluctant Fundamentalist, following the events of 9/11, Changez becomes nearly--but not quite--as lost and confused as Erica. Is the thing that saves him from disappearing as she does the fact that he has a second homeland to fall back on?
There is a significant amount of truth in this statement. In a sense, Erica seems to characterise the rootless identity of America, and the way that it is struggling so much for meaning and to find itself. Changez initially finds that he is lost, but only because he is struggling with the changes that America has wrought in his own identity. This is shown through his visit to Pakistan, where he finds that he looks at his homeland through the eyes of "an entitled and unsympathetic American." This is something that angers Changez, and triggers a desire to change the person he has become:
But as I reacclimatized and my surroundings once again became familiar, it occurred to me that the house had not changed in my absence. I had changed; I was looking about me with the eyes of a foreigner, and not just any foreigner, but that particular type of entitled and unsympathetic American who so annoyed me when I encountered him in the classrooms and workplaces of your country’s elite. This realization angered me; staring at my own reflection in the speckled glass of my bathroom mirror I resolved to exorcise the unwelcome sensibility by which I had become possessed.
The difference between Changez and Erica is that through 9/11 and then the subsequent American invasion of Afghanistan, Changez feels a strong loyalty that rises up from within him that he seems to have little control over. Even though he is not from Afghanistan, the fact that this country shares a border with his own country makes him feel massive solidarity with Afghanistan, and causes him to resent American interference and also the arrogance with which America felt it had the right to invade other nations. This is the crucial difference between Erica and Changez: Changez always has a homeland, even though he temporarily forgets it. Erica is shown to be a drifting wanderer, with nothing to connect her to anything.